November 1, 2020 through April 18, 2021

Scheller Gallery

New Century, New Woman explores American women’s new personal and political freedoms at the turn of the twentieth century through the lens of fashion. Between 1890 and 1920, many women challenged the expectation that their role should be limited to home and family. This “New Woman” pursued employment and college education in increasing numbers, and campaigned for suffrage and social reform.

“Modern women do not spend their days settled in the comfort of an armchair.”

Jovita Idar (teacher, journalist, feminist, nurse), 1911

Fashionable clothing in this era ranged from elaborate, feminine dresses to smart separates inspired by menswear. As women challenged norms of feminine behavior, many chose to dress stylishly in order to subvert stereotypes and advance their agendas.

Honoring the one-hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, this exhibition offers a historical perspective on issues such as gender roles, fashion, and professional self-presentation that continue to resonate today.

What Does Activism Mean to You?

After viewing New Century, New Woman and Prints and Protest, 1960-1970, visitors were asked to respond to the prompt:


The Progressive Motivations of Women Activists Who Defied Social Norms


In the News

New Century, New Woman is supported through the generosity of the Society of the Arts (SOTA) and Mrs. Eleanor P. Laubner.

Additional support is provided by the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Century Fund, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the County of Lehigh, the Keystone Foundation, the Allentown Art Museum Auxiliary, the Society of the Arts (SOTA), the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Museum.